Welcome to our fortnightly newsletter, where our editors put together handpicked stories from the world of tech law! You can find other issues here.
Uber likely to start bus service in India
The San-Francisco cab-aggregator giant, Uber is working on to kick-start an AC bus service in India. With the introduction of AC bus service, Uber is trying to inch closer toward its goals of reducing individual car ownership, expanding transportation access and helping governments plan transportation. Pradeep Parameswaran, Uber India and South Asia head said that “we are in the process of building the product and refining that. Some pilots are live in parts of Latin America and the Middle East. So they are the archetype of markets that would look like India”.
Uber bus will allow commuters to use the Uber app and reserve their seat on an air-conditioned bus. Uber will scan other passengers travelling in the same direction as the rider and hence reaching the destination with fewer stops. Through its bus service, Uber is emphasizing on educational campuses and business centers. Earlier Ola, Uber’s direct competitor, had launched similar kind of bus service in limited cities in 2015 but was stopped in 2018. At present, Gurgaon based Shuttl provides app based bus service to offices. Uber bus service in India is expected to become a reality in mid-2020.
- Moupiya Dutta, Uber will be starting a bus service in India by 2020, TechGenyz (8 August 2019).
- Shreya Ganguly, Uber mulls launching bus service in India, Medianama (9 August 2019).
- Tenzim Norzom, Ride-hailing major Uber to soon launch bus service in India, Yourstory (7 August 2019).
- Hans News Service, Uber to start bus service in India, The Hans India (8 August 2019).
- Priyanka Sahay, India may see Uber buses plying on roads in a year, Moneycontrol (8 August 2019).
WhatsApp Hack Can Alter Messages and Spread Misinformation
The Israeli Research Company, Check Point recently revealed that WhatsApp could be hacked causing serious potential security risks to users at the Annual Black Hat Security Conference on 7thAugust, 2019. According to Roman Zaikin and Oded Vanunu, they were able to change the identity of a sender, alter the text of someone’s reply on a group and even send private messages to another member in the group as a public message, such that the reply is visible to all the participants of a group. They were able to exploit the weaknesses of the application, after they reverse-engineered the source code in 2018 and decrypt its traffic. Since then Check Point has stated that it found three ways to manipulate and alter conversations, all of which are exploited through its quoting feature. The creators did warn WhatsApp in 2018 that the tool could be used by ‘threat actors’ to create and spread misinformation and fake news. Facebook has responded stating that the risk is not serious, and to alter the application would mean having to store data about the sender, leading to lesser privacy for its users.
- Davey Winder, WhatsApp Hack Attack Can Change Your Messages, Forbes (7 August 2019).
- ET Bureau, WhatsApp hack attack can change your messages, says Israeli security firm, The Economic Times (7 August 2019).
- Shreya Ganguly, Messages and identity on WhatsApp can be manipulated if hacked: Check Point Research, Medianama (9 August 2019).
- Mike Moore, Hackers can alter WhatsApp chats to show fake information, Tech Radar (9 August 2019).
Facebook’s new entity Calibra raises attention of privacy commissioners
Calibra is the new subsidiary of Facebook and its cryptocurrency is called Libra. Calibra hopes to build a financial service on top of the Libra Blockchain. The privacy concerns raised go beyond the question of financial security and privacy because of the expansive collection of data which Facebook accumulates and has access to. Calibra issued a statement that user information will be shared in only certain circumstances but there is no definite understanding of what such situations are.
Apart from privacy concerns, the joint statement issued by the countries includes several concerns on whether Facebook should be given the right to get involved in the banking sector. If they did, they should seek a new banking charter and should be regulated by all the banking laws. These were few of the concerns raised by privacy commissioners.
- Soumyarendra Barik, Privacy commissioners from across the world raise concerns over Facebook Libra’s privacy risk, Medianama (6 August 2019).
- Nick Statt, Facebook’s Calibra is a secret weapon for monetizing its new cryptocurrency, The Verge (18 June 2019).
- Reuters, Facebook’s cryptocurrency project raises privacy concerns, asked to halt programme, tech2 (19 June 2019).
- Jon Fingas, US, UK regulators ask Facebook how Libra will protect personal data, engagdet (8 May 2019).
- Harper Neidig, Global privacy regulators raise concerns over Libra, The Hill (8 May 2019).
EU General Data Protection Regulation exploited to reveal personal data
University of Oxford researcher James Pavur successfully exposed a design flaw in the GDPR, as a bogus demand for data using the “right to access” feature of the regulation saw about one in four companies reveal significant information about the person regarding whom the request was made. Data provided by the companies contained significant information including credit card information, travel details, account passwords and the target’s social security number, which was used by the researcher as evidence of design flaws in the GDPR. Pavur also found that large tech companies did well when it came to evaluating the requests, whereas mid-sized business didn’t perform as well despite being aware of the coming into force of the data protection regulation.
- Leo Kelion, Black Hat: GDPR privacy law exploited to reveal personal data, BBC (8 August 2019).
- Sead Fadilpasic, GDPR requests exploited to leak personal data, IT ProPortal (9 August 2019).
- John E Dunn, GDPR privacy can be defeated using right of access requests, Naked Security by SOPHOS (12 August 2019).
- Understanding the GDPR’s Right of Access, Siteimprov (14 June 2019).
Apple to suspend human review of Siri requests
Human reviewers will no longer be used to study conversations recorded by Siri, according to a recent announcement by Apple. The move gives users a greater degree of privacy over their communications, and analysis of recordings will be suspended while the “grading” system deployed by the company is reviewed. The system refers to the manner in which contractors grade the accuracy of the digital assistant’s voice recognition system, with the primary task being to determine the phrase that triggered action by i.e. whether the user had actually said, “Hey, Siri” or if it was something else.
- Hannah Denham and Jay Greene, Did you say, ‘Hey, Siri’? Apple and Amazon curtail human review of voice recordings., Washington Post (2 August 2019).
- Jason Cross, So Apple’s going to stop listening in on your Siri requests. Now what?, Macworld (2 August 2019).
- Rob Marvin, Apple to Halt Human Review of Siri Recordings, PC Mag (2 August 2019).
- Kate O’Flaherty, Apple Siri Eavesdropping Puts Millions Of Users At Risk, Forbes (28 July 2019).